This meme was posted by a friend of mine on Facebook this morning, and I had to laugh. As a civilian in college, I did five static line jumps with a club. It was terrifying, amazing, awe-inspiring, and some of the most fun you can have with your clothes on. I quit doing it for several reasons, including temporarily damaging my knee trying to kick start a friend’s motorcycle (a story for another day).
And, variations of “Oh Shit!” were not uncommon but as far as I know, no one ever needed this particular arrangement. Well, there was one case that I a amazed the person jumping didn’t let loose the sphincters, and will always wonder a bit if she did. Ifni knows that she caused almost all the rest of us to do so.
Yes, jumping is not for everyone and it is terrifying to throw yourself out/let go (and letting go is the key here and elsewhere). To cast away safety and the mundane is always scary, to let yourself go and trust in others. Lots that can be said here, but… And, yes, I was one of those that always packed my own shoot, even on my first jump.
Before I get too distracted and philosophical, there were always those who came just to try a jump, who wanted the thrill and sometimes they got hooked. We jumped as safe as possible, with auto-openers on the reserves and for the “tourists” there were helmets with voice-activated radios and such so that additional coaching beyond what was covered before hand (and some of that) could be given in real-time.
This attractive young lady, however, almost managed to circumvent every safety precaution in place, out of pure panic. We knew she was going to be fun even before she went up, but it was confirmed the moment she let go of the plane — she ran. Running is not uncommon in jumpers, and to be honest it is funny as all get outs to see someone running in the air in such a way that had they been on the ground they would have done 0-60 in about 3.3 seconds.
In this case, however, she didn’t just run. She screamed. If someone is screaming constantly with no break for intake of breath (as far as we could tell), guess what that does to a voice activated radio? That’s right, no way to coach from the ground.
Thankfully, no problems on the line and the shoot opened. She kept screaming and running. She thrashed around in the harness, grabbed the steering toggles, and pulled both. Toggles are nice, easy, and simple. Want to go one way? Pull the correct toggle and turn. Want to go back the other way? Pull the other toggle. Want to drop very quickly and do a good imitation of a rock? Pull both. She did. She dropped, and the screaming went up in pitch.
For some reason, maybe it was all of us yelling at her from the ground, she let go and came on down. Still running. Right onto the parking apron of the airport. No PLF, I swear I think she was still running as she hit, and pitched face forward at a good clip onto the parking apron.
That God looks after drunks, fools, and idiots I am convinced, because when we raced over to her, she got up, and didn’t have a scrape on her. No teeth in the asphalt, no scrapes, no tears in the jump suit, nothing. I was so busy checking that out that I forgot to check the seat of her pants.
It was then that she chose to strike terror into our hearts yet again. She made the comment that it wasn’t so bad, that she might like to do it again. I think she was surprised and possibly a little hurt at how fast she was removed from the jump suit, her gear taken away, thanked for coming out to play, and just about literally thrown into the car/her car.